Nesting time for our squirrels

Despite these ferocious storms, grey squirrels are building their nests at this time of year.

A squirrel’s nest is an untidy ball of sticks that looks so haphazard that you might wonder if it arrived there by accident: snapped twigs and dead leaves blown aloft by the week’s storm winds. It’s called a drey.

But the messy ball of sticks is carefully lined with all kinds of soft stuff: dried grasses, shredded bark, moss and feathers. It is cosy, weatherproof and designed to keep a litter of nestlings warm and safe through their fragile infancy.

Squirrels build high in the trees, at least six metres from the ground and often much higher. They build close to the tree trunk or in the fork of a sturdy branch where the tree is stronger and provides more support.

Sometimes they will use a naturally occurring hole in a tree, or an abandoned woodpecker’s nest, lined in the same way as the ball of sticks. The hole has to be substantial because squirrel litters can be large and the babies will be almost as big as their parents before they leave the nest.

The park houses a lot of grey squirrels; look up, find their nests among our windswept and battered trees and send us pictures.

Photographs by DKG unless otherwise attributed

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